Accessible or universal when away from home?
Written by Angela May Published: 3 September 2019
It is almost impossible, within the daily practicality of typical business constraints, to design a toilet away from home that meets everyone’s need. Even if two people have the same disability, they will still have different needs because of how it has impacted specifically on them.
We ran an informal survey recently on social media around Changing Places assisted accessible toilets.
Whilst mainly developed for people with complex and multiple disabilities, and other people with severe disabilities the toilets are in reality used by a myriad of other people, who need either the space, or the equipment, or who care for someone who needs support away from home. A Changing Places gives more space and more equipment. Even so people still feel it doesn’t meet their specific needs.
Interestingly, one of the main things felt to limit someone’s ability to use a Changing Places was the toilet height. Potentially, it isn’t that difficult or expensive on the overall project cost to fix. A toilet lifter or height-adjustable toilet will ‘tick the box’.
That will address the needs of more. Alongside the equipment provided as standard in a Changing Places, it will meet the needs of most. Is it actually possible to design a truly universal accessible toilet, that meets the needs of everyone, and to so do in a way that is affordable for venues to provide?
To plagiarise the Equality Act, any provision has to be practical and reasonable. Surely it’s reasonable to expect to be able to use a toilet when away from home. The big question is whether it is practical for a venue to provide a facility that everyone can use.